“Welding is a critical aspect of our builds. If we aren’t able to weld, we can’t get our projects done.”
Every rock star needs a cool set of wheels – making the partnership between Rockstar Energy Drinks and custom builder Nicholas Ashby a perfect one. Working together to launch the first ever lifestyle-brand-owned performance garage, Rockstar and Ashby have created a fully functioning shop that successfully bridges the lifestyle and automotive markets.
Officially opened in June 2012, Rockstar Performance Garage (RPG) works on a range of projects, everything from off road vehicles to imports to muscle cars, and though it hasn’t been open long, the shop’s cars have already received recognition and awards.
“For a long time, there’s been a disconnect between the automotive vertical and the lifestyle vertical, and Rockstar Performance Garage bridges these two verticals,” says Nic Ashby. “We integrate the automotive world correctly with the lifestyle world by finding projects that offer true brand alignment and really make sense for our customers.”
Ashby Gets his Start
The journey toward RPG’s creation began when Ashby returned home from a tour in Iraq. Before beginning his career as a custom builder, Ashby worked construction, then joined the Army National Guard. To honor three friends killed in action during his combat tour, Ashby built his first ever custom car. Called “National Guard Fallen Heroes,” the vehicle was an Infinity G35 coupe covered with an intricate design composed of American flags and images of soldiers’ faces.
This first vehicle led Ashby to create several more cars inspired by his service in the armed forces, and he continued to build these vehicles until he retired from the National Guard in 2009.
After retirement, Ashby’s passion for show cars led him to form his very own project vehicle company called LDRSHIP Designs, named for the seven Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. LDRSHIP Designs builds custom cars and helps clients design marketing materials needed to support promotion of the projects.
With support from the National Guard, Ashby built his first car under the LDRSHIP Designs name in 2009 – a Chevy that won numerous awards, including “Best Domestic of 2009” from Gran Turismo.
Rockstar Considered the Perfect Partner
As head of LDRSHIP Designs, Ashby continued to find success building showcase vehicles for a variety of clients, including the National Guard and BF Goodrich. However, despite his wide range of customers, Ashby had one brand in mind with which he really wanted to build a partnership: Rockstar Energy Drinks.
“Rockstar has what I would call a class-act presence,” says Ashby. “It is specific and intentional about who and what it aligns its brand with, and I knew that I could work with Rockstar to create cars that would successfully illustrate the brand and help bring its product to a new audience and market.”
After two years of discussion and planning, Ashby built his first car for Rockstar in 2011, a 392 Dodge Challenger called the “Dodge Dollar Car.”
With a black base coat of paint covered with the signature gold Rockstar color and logo, the car also boasts numerous details including DPE three-piece wheels, KW Coil overs, a black Ultrasuede and black Pecca Leather interior, as well as embossed taillights, billet badges and a paint-fading technique, giving the vehicle the high class, powerful look appropriate to any Rockstar vehicle. Completed in less than 30 days, the car was an instant success when it debuted at that year’s Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show in the Vortech Superchargers Booth.
Thanks to the success of that first build, Rockstar asked Ashby to continue their relationship, leading to the creation of RPG. The first build from the new garage, a 2013 Chevy Camaro SS Convertible, was shared at SEMA 2012 and made a bold statement, with bright yellow paint running down the vehicle into tapering black lines down the back. With an unusual twist, one-piece forged wheels built exclusively for the car were designed to match the yellow paint at the front and the black body paint at the rear. The Camaro received “Best Designed Exterior” at SEMA from Chevy and also was awarded the GM Design Award.
Quality Partners Produce Quality Cars
RPG has continued to find success after that first build, working with a range of manufacturers to complete its projects. However, despite the varied vendors used, there’s one common denominator between all of its manufacturer partners – a high level of quality.
“We strive to align with quality products that will enhance our brand, not diminish it,” says Ashby.
This high standard of quality is why RPG turns to Lincoln Electric as its welding supplier and partner, as welding plays an integral role in the production process of RPG’s vehicles.
“Welding is a critical aspect of our builds,” says Ashby. “If we aren’t able to weld, we can’t get our projects done. And the quality and customer service provided by Lincoln Electric products is essential to the production process at our shop. I feel like our shop is part of the Lincoln Electric family and the service and support we’ve received from the company has been incredible.”
Ashby has been a Lincoln Electric customer ever since he first picked up a Lincoln Electric plasma cutter while working on Humvees during his tour in Iraq. He continued his use of the brand while building his first custom cars, and now his shop is outfitted with a wide variety of Lincoln Electric equipment, including a Precision® TIG 225, Tomahawk® 1000 plasma cutting system, POWER MIG® 256, POWER MIG 180 Dual for portability in off road work, and Lincoln Electric Red Line™ apparel and accessories.
The majority of the equipment is used for welding mild steel, but Ashby will soon begin to embark on some aluminum work for jeep and off road parts.
Ashby Involved in Entire Process
A true jack-of-all-trades, Ashby is the shop’s only welder, and also oversees many other elements of the shop, working closely on everything from design to production to marketing of RPG’s vehicles.
The shop’s production process begins with a carefully planned design presented to a customer. Once it’s approved, the shop obtains a car from OEMs or buys one privately, then strips the vehicle down to the rolling chassis.
Next, the shop works with various automotive brands to create and concept new aftermarket parts for the vehicle, creates prototypes of those parts, then uses them to build the car. The build process includes a great deal of welding and cutting – everything from using plasma cutting to remove factory parts to welding on a new performance suspension.
After finishing production, the shop tests the newly built car and then showcases the finished product. If there’s a desire in the market for the new parts created for the car, RPG will work directly with OEMs to produce the parts and make them available for aftermarket sales. RPG works closely with Rockstar Energy Drinks on this aftermarket-part effort.
As the shop’s quick success shows, there’s no doubt that there are many exciting things to come from the partnership between Ashby and Rockstar Energy Drinks. Together, they continue to create innovative, eye-catching vehicles – as powerful and impressive as the team and brand behind them.